A prominent Republican state lawmaker in Minnesota announced Friday he will no longer seek reelection after his daughter went public with claims of yearslong inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.
MPR News, which published a detailed report of the allegations, said state Rep. Jim Knoblach denied the allegations in a statement but declined an interview prior to the story’s release.
> In a written statement, Knoblach called the allegations "indescribably hurtful" and said he would work toward healing his family.
> "I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them. Her allegations are false," Knoblach wrote. "I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused."
The lawmaker’s daughter, Laura Knoblach, told MPR News that her father had behaved inappropriately toward her from the time she was nine until as recently as 2016; she is now 23.
Laura said she told various people about her father’s behavior — including close friends, family, a teacher, and her youth pastor — several times over more than ten years.
> She said she decided to tell her story to MPR News after exhausting other means to hold her father accountable, including a 2017 investigation by local law enforcement. No charges resulted. She provided MPR News with extensive documentation about her attempts to get help.
> Laura Knoblach, 23, said she first remembers her father, an eight-term state representative, touching her when she was 9 years old. He came into her room after she'd gone to bed and climbed in and laid down behind her.
> "He would put his arm around me and not let me get up or get away and he would lick my neck or bite my ear," she said in an interview with MPR News.
> These visits to her room, or similar kissing across her arms and neck and biting her ears while they watched movies on the couch, happened so often throughout her childhood and teenage years it became a defining part of her relationship with her father, she said.
> There were other routine behaviors, she said, including more than 30 instances where her father approached her from behind and pressed his body against hers in the kitchen of their home, pinning her against the refrigerator or dishwasher and using his weight and strength to keep her from getting away.
MPR News goes on to detail several more incidents of her father’s behavior, as well as the eventual police investigation into Laura’s claims.
By the end of their investigation, police determined that though her father’s behavior was “creepy” and abusive, it did not cross any lines that would warrant charges.
Laura’s family pressured her to consider her father’s standing in the community, but she chose to tell her story regardless.
> In January of 2017, after she reported the allegations to the police, Laura Knoblach said she reached out to her mother because she was struggling financially. She says her mother told her she was upset with her for reporting her allegations to police.
> "She goes, 'I don't ever want to speak to you again,' and just hangs up the phone, and I was like, oh my God, I don't know what to do," Laura said.
> She's not speaking with her immediate family members anymore, who she said are trying to paint her untruthful and unstable.
> "My entire family had been like, 'You'll lose your family and you're doing this terrible thing, and if he loses the next election it is your fault," she said. "And you know, even after I posted this on Facebook they're like, 'Your dad's boss said this to him and that's your fault.'"